Tag Archive | researching

Curiosity Results in Life-Long Learning

curiosityPeter Mallet’s blog is one of my favorite blogs. He’s dedicated his blog to giving other writers very good advice. He also offers a variety of links to other helps a writer can use. While I was reading his post this morning, I came across these words:

“The best writers are curious. I think the addition to that rule should be, “Always strive to know more than you do at any given moment.” Never stop learning.”

In those two sentences, Peter summed me up. I think this is why I chose to write historical fiction. First, I was curious about the time period of my parents, and second, I constantly love to learn things I didn’t know.

Right now, I’m researching women  pilots of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Most people have heard about Amelia Earhart, but have you heard about Jackie Cochran? Did you know that British women and American women pilots provided a valuable service of ferrying planes from the factories to the airfields, so men could devote their time to combat flying? Did you know there were women who actually flew in combat? I didn’t either until I started researching.

I believe my natural curiosity drove my mother nuts because she felt, as my parent, she needed to know everything instead of saying, “I don’t know, let’s go find out together,” she made something up. That technique worked until I got old enough to prove her wrong. From then on, I never asked her questions any more. Instead, I headed for my neighbor’s encyclopedias.

When my children came along, I thought the best thing I could do for them was cultivate their curiosity. As we drove along in the car, I’d say something like, “I wonder why that tree grew so crooked.”  As we walked through a park, I’d ask, “I wonder what kind of flower that is.” Then we would go home and look up the answer. I wanted my girls to be aware of the world around them, and I wanted them to grow up asking their own questions.

One of the things which concerns me is the lack of curiosity I’ve seen in today’s young people. I would be happy if they had questions and satisfied them quickly by searching the Internet. They have this powerful tool as close as their “smart” phones, but they are more apt to text their friends and wonder, “Whatssup?”

We live in a world where if you stop learning and asking “Why?”, you may as well lay down and die. When I see this kind of attitude in my students, I worry about their futures as well as that of our country. Curiosity is cultivated by parents and teachers. We need to ask our children, “What do you think?” Light their fire. Make them think. Get them excited about the world around them.

The Dog Days of August

sunHere we are at the end of August and summer has decided to show up. We’ve had an exceptionally cool June, July and most of August this year, so this weather is hard on everybody–even Ernie the pug. He lays like a frog on the linoleum to keep his tummy cool, while he pants and snorts. Needless to say, pugs have a small window for weather tolerance to keep them comfortable. Much like me.

So, yesterday, today, and tomorrow when the temperature gauge dances around the 90 degree mark, Ken and I will be hanging out in the living room each on our own computers pretending we are somewhere else. The oscillating fan will provide our trade winds, and the air conditioner will keep the temps a balmy 78 degrees.

I’ve heard friends from warmer climates speak about how hard it is to stay indoors when the weather looks beautiful through the window, but going outside means a good chance of melting. A few days of such weather drives me nuts; I don’t know how southerners get through the whole long, hot summer. Of course, they wonder how and why we northerners endure almost six months of cold and snow. I always tell them I can put on more clothes than I can take off without being arrested.

One plus of hunkering down indoors is getting on with my research. The greatest perk about being a writer is you can research and write almost anywhere. I truly love my profession because my commutes are short; my working environment is comfortable, and  I can write in my jammies, sipping coffee, while my imagination takes me away to different times and places.

As we suffer through these three days of extreme heat, I daydream what it must have been like not to have air conditioning or fans on hot days like today. When I was a child, no one in our little town had air conditioning — including the school and church. I remember heading to the basement to escape the inferno outside. I remember not sleeping because I couldn’t get comfortable. And I remember my Dad coming home from work after working all day in a place where the inside 100 degrees and the outside 90 degrees offered no relief. We never complained to Dad how hot it was because he had worked in hell all day to keep our family feed.

Children love hot weather because they can splash and play in cool water from the hose in the backyard. Lucky kids swim in backyard pools, while their Moms watch them from padded chairs perched under a huge umbrella sipping lemonade or something stronger. Such was the case when my children were little. Our neighbor’s pool was always open to us, and I spent many hours swimming with them or watching my little tadpoles practice what they learned in swimming class.

Up until recent years, summer was my favorite season. I had my birthday in July, there was no school, and I played all day at the park. I got to go to Girl Scout camp every summer, learning the mysteries of the outdoor world. I played baseball all day long whenever I could. It’s funny. I never remember being too hot to play. Mom treated us to Popsicles or Kool-Aid in the afternoons, and we were happy.  Maybe that’s the secret!  Kids don’t feel the heat like older grown-ups do. Yeah. That must be it!

So, if I complain about being cooped up in a comfortable, cool house for a few days, just slap me. I deserve it. After all, children are young once and summer is a time to enjoy.